Do thoughts of Daylight Saving Time (DST) already have you yawning? Learn 5 tips for a smooth adjustment this spring.
I was always taught that spring is the time for “springing ahead” with our clocks. While a helpful mnemonic, I find it interesting to consider the language.
What is implied by “springing ahead”? It sounds like we’re all eager and willing to move forward faster! But spring is often a wet, heavy, sluggish time. You might be weary from a long, cold winter. While you may believe you “should just be able to” power through like nothing’s different, your mind-body system often isn’t on board with that. And, we can be pretty hard on ourselves when we come up against that fact.
The truth is, when you try to power through a change like DST, it adds stress, and too much stress will always counter quality sleep. This is partly because DST up-ends the rhythms you’ve previously established (whether you believe they’re healthy or not!). Such stress is part of the reason why the number of heart attacks and strokes can increase during this transitional time.
How can you transition with more grace? Apart from the usual advice, here are a few, more novel tips.
1. Don’t wait for Daylight Saving Time to arrive.
Don’t wait until the night before to make the full, one-hour adjustment. Instead, ease into the change in 15-minute increments, over the course of several weeks, if possible. (If not, even a few days could be helpful.)
2. Take special care of yourself for at least 3 days (& up to a week) following the time change.
Expect that your body may not be as energetic, your mind may not be as alert. Build a few more rest breaks into your day, and defer important decisions until the following week if possible. Carefully consider the pros & cons of napping.
3. Don’t worry so much about it.
Worry, stress, and anxiety are stealers of healthy sleep. Since seasonal time changes happen two times a year, they can feel like a big event. But if you’ve ever traveled, you may remember what it’s like to visit places in other time zones (sometimes with bigger gaps than an hour!). Look at DST as you would a bout of jet lag, no more, no less. Trust that you’ll recover & avoid a negative attitude.
4. Understand that working against nature is harder.
It’s easy to wonder “what’s wrong with me?” when your mind-body system doesn’t have the energy you’d like it to. Barring any medical reasons for it, the transition into spring is naturally a time of gradually doing more. Plants don’t just suddenly appear in full bloom one morning! Take the budding leaves as your example–each day, just a little more color & brightness appears. You’re not a machine; you’re part of nature too!
5. Establish a wake & sleep rhythm that’s time-independent.
If you have the flexibility, establish a pattern whereby you rise with the sun, regardless of clock-time. Such a rise time usually means also likely transitioning to sleep earlier than you might be accustomed to. This is a longer-term suggestion, but one that might save you from the yearly ups-and-downs these clock changes bring.